Slumping Surhoff sits one out after two hitless games

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

He's off to 0-for-9 start

Cordova again doesn't play

April 04, 2003|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Facing a left-hander last night, the Orioles broke out a lineup that didn't include B.J. Surhoff or Marty Cordova. Surhoff has begun the season in a slump. Cordova has begun it in pain caused by a herniated disc.

Surhoff started on Opening Day against Cleveland Indians left-hander C.C. Sabathia, going hitless in five at-bats and laying down a sacrifice bunt. Off to an 0-for-9 start, he sat last night against veteran Brian Anderson.

Manager Mike Hargrove hinted after Wednesday's 4-2 loss to the Indians that Surhoff might be pressing in his return to Baltimore after 2 1/2 seasons with the Atlanta Braves.

"My first couple of [Opening Day] at-bats, I felt a little jumpy," Surhoff said. "You find yourself trying to do too much and pressing a little bit. Obviously, I wanted to come back and make a good impression. But it's only nine at-bats. You have to keep that in perspective, or the next thing you know, you'll be behind the eight ball."

Jose Leon received his first start after Cordova, scratched from the lineup two days ago, underwent a magnetic resonance imaging test yesterday and received a cortisone shot to alleviate pain caused by the disc.

Cordova played in the opener and hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning, though the discomfort worsened as the game moved to the 13th. Doctors have instructed him to remain inactive for two more days, and he's not likely to play in the three-game series against the Boston Red Sox that begins tonight. The Orioles are off Monday.

Cordova, who led the Orioles with five home runs this spring, told Hargrove after Wednesday's game that anti-inflammatory drugs were making the back feel a little better, but the disc is causing pressure on a nerve. He was confident last night that he wouldn't go on the disabled list, but Hargrove said before the game that it was possible.

"Opening Day, I felt like crap," Cordova said while sitting at his locker Wednesday night. "It was really bothering me and after that it was hurting more and more. But I did not want to miss the start of the season. I'm glad we didn't work out [Sunday] because I didn't really feel like I could do much, but with the adrenaline of Opening Day, I was going to play no matter what."

Cordova had trouble getting loose again on Wednesday and took himself out of the lineup around 4 p.m. He can move to the right without much trouble, but the back won't allow him to bend comfortably to the left.

Without Cordova, the Orioles' bench was paper thin last night because they're carrying Single-A shortstop Jose Morban, a Rule 5 pick of the Minnesota Twins who was claimed off waivers. It will be bolstered once David Segui comes off the disabled list. He's scheduled to play at Single-A Frederick tonight before the Orioles decide whether to activate him tomorrow.

Hentgen adjusts to 'pen

Usually one of the more relaxed and personable members of the Orioles' clubhouse, Pat Hentgen hasn't been smiling much since the season began.

Hentgen still is trying to adjust to the bullpen, an assignment that came a few days before spring training ended. Rick Helling was named the No. 3 starter, leaving no room for Hentgen in the rotation.

Trying to stay sharp, Hentgen threw on the side and did some long-tossing yesterday with pitching coach Mark Wiley before the Orioles took batting practice.

"When you've been a starter your whole career and you get sent to the bullpen, why would you be happy about that? But you've got to earn it. It's a privilege. And I didn't earn it this spring," he said.

Hentgen hasn't pitched in relief since doing it twice out of 34 appearances in 1993. "I'm just waiting to get the call," he said. "I'd like to get out there and pitch, but we've got a great bullpen. And both starters did a great job [in the first two games]. It's been different, but what are you going to do?"

Opening acts

Three of the Orioles' four full-season affiliates -- Triple-A Ottawa, Double-A Bowie and Single-A Delmarva -- opened their seasons yesterday.

Only 11 members of Ottawa's 24-man roster played for Rochester last season, when the Red Wings posted the worst record in their classification for the second straight year before becoming affiliated with the Twins.

The Orioles signed catcher Robert Machado, 29, to a Triple-A contract yesterday and placed him on the disabled with a pulled left hamstring. He'll report to the extended spring training camp in Sarasota, Fla., before heading to Ottawa.

Bowie's roster includes a familiar name from the past. Willis Otanez, who played briefly for the Orioles in 1998 and '99, rejoined the organization after spending time in the Mexican League and independent Atlantic League.

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